The four-Test Vitality Netball Legends Series between the Sunshine Girls and England Roses has been postponed because of extended restrictions to international travel between the UK and Jamaica because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, according to Netball Jamaica, they are discussing with England Netball, the possibility of having the series in November 2021.

The series was to have got underway on January 22 and was to have been shown live on SkySports in the United Kingdom.

“We are hugely disappointed that the series cannot happen in January, but with the extended restrictions to international travel between the UK and Jamaica, it isn't possible for the fixture to go ahead as planned," the statement from England Netball said.

“We would like to thank the Jamaican national team and the Vitality Roses for their collective efforts to plan and prepare for the series to date, and their support in making this decision.”

Netball Jamaica President Tricia Robinson explained that it was a collective decision based on the extension of travel restrictions from Jamaica to the UK until the end of January 2021 brought about by the ongoing spikes in the UK and the emergence of the variant strain of the virus that makes it easier to spread.

“We are naturally disappointed as this is a second postponement,” Robinson said. “The players are going on a little break now and will resume training in February.”

Robinson said that talks are ongoing between the two federations with a view to having the series later this year, with November being proposed as an appropriate time to resume. This is in light of the fact that players from both teams have been signed by teams in the Suncorp Super Netball League that gets underway in Australia in March.

 

Netball Jamaica has named a 15-player squad to face England in the Vitality Netball Legends Series in England in January 2021.

The Vitality Netball Legends Series is a new tournament, which has been named to represent the netball players who are making their mark on the international stage.

England Netball announced in November that it planned to host a four-match test series against Jamaica at the end of January 2021, which will be the first international competition on home soil in a year. The Sunshine Girls have also agreed to travel to the UK for a period of isolation before facing England.

Jamaica’s team was announced on Saturday with Jhaniele Fowler retaining the captaincy. Star defender Shamera Sterling has been named vice-captain of the squad for the very first time.

The full squad also includes Jodi-Ann Ward, Adean Thomas, Latanya Wilson, Kadie-Ann Dehaney Rebekah Robinson,  Shanice Beckford, Shadian Hemmings, Nicole Dixon, Shannika Johnson, Stacian Facey, Malysha Kelly, Khadijah Williams and Gezelle Allison.

Paula-Ann Burton has been named as a training partner.

West Coast Fever shooter Jhaniele Fowler has capped off an incredible year by being crowned the club’s 2020 Most Valuable Player for a second consecutive year.

The Jamaican shooter also claimed the Player’s Player Award for the third consecutive year at Saturday’s event at RAC Arena.

Fowler finished the 2020 Suncorp Super Netball season with 965 goals, the most in the league for the third year running.

Head Coach Stacey Marinkovich congratulated Fowler on another outstanding season.

“Jhaniele is a truly deserving winner of the MVP award. She has consistently performed at the highest level, under immense pressure and against world leading defenders. Her elite level of execution is a reflection of her dedication, hard work and leadership” Marinkovich said.

“Jhaniele is a true professional on and off the court. She has made significant sacrifices to play in the 2020 season and with that she certainly ensured that she made the most of that decision. 

“We are incredibly proud of what she has achieved at our club. Knowing the professional she is I am looking forward to seeing what she can do to evolve her game and take into the next season.”

Three Jamaican netballers have been signed by teams playing in the 2021 season of the Vitality Super Netball League in the United Kingdom.

Malysha Kelly, Rebekah Robinson and Gezelle Allison were signed on Friday by the Seven Stars, Celtic Dragons, and Wasps, respectively.

Kelly returns to professional netball after a protracted spell out recovering from a ruptured ACL while training in the ANZ Premiership. She brings a wealth of experience having already competed out in Suncorp Super Netball.

"I'm so excited to have her as someone brand new," Head Coach Melissa Bessell said. "She's been training hard and I can't wait to see what she can do back on the Superleague stage."

Allison, meanwhile, said she is eager to grasp the opportunity.

“I am happy. I am grateful for this opportunity,” she told Sportsmax.TV Friday, shortly after her signing was announced.

“Signing a professional contract will only build me as a player. It will also help me excel and build my confidence.”

Head coach Mel Mansfield is eager to see what the player brings to the Wasps.

"The 6ft, dual basketball and netball player brings Jamaican flair, power, strength and shooting accuracy," Mansfield said.

"We are thrilled to welcome her to the black and gold of Wasps. She brings something fresh, new and exciting to our attacking line-up.”

Trinidad and Tobago international Sam Wallace has re-signed with the New South Wales Swifts club for the 2021 season of the Suncorp Super Netball League.

Wallace, a two-time club MVP and 2019 Grand Final best-on-court recipient, joined the Swifts in 2017 and won the Suncorp Super Netball League in 2019.

Head Coach Briony Akle said having the key partnership of Wallace and Helen Housby in for next season was vital for the club’s continued success.

“Since both players joined the Swifts in 2017 they have formed a formidable partnership in the attack end,” she said.

“Sam has been a rock for us in attack and she really showed what she can do in all areas of the attack circle with her long-range shooting this year.

“Her partnership with Helen is one of the best to watch in the game. While we didn’t get the finish to 2020 we were looking for, the connections we’ve formed over the past three seasons will only continue to strengthen.”

Wallace, 26, enjoyed another outstanding season during the 2020 Suncorp Super Netball League. She was the third-best shooter scoring 522 goals from 591 attempts and scored 46 Super Shots from 85 attempts, which ranked her fifth in both categories. She also ended up fifth in the rankings for offensive rebounds with 31 for the season.

 

It was disappointment for Jhaniele Fowler but joy for Kadie-Ann Dehaney as the Melbourne Vixens edged the West Coast Fever 66-64 to win the 2020 Suncorp Super League Netball title on Sunday.

Following another outstanding shooting performance against the Sunshine Coast Lightning on Sunday, Jamaica’s Jhaniele Fowler has once again topped the scoring charts in the Suncorp Super Netball League.

Fowler, 31, has scored more goals than any other player in the league by some way, having sunk 910 goals from a league leading 967 attempts so far this season. It is the third consecutive season that the towering Jamaican shooter was dominating in the number of goals scored. She also had 66 offensive rebounds, second to Romelda Aiken's 110.

Aiken, who plays for the Queensland Firebirds, was some distance behind with 583 goals as Caribbean athletes asserted their dominance in this category. Trinidad and Tobago’s Samantha Wallace of the dethroned champions New South Wales Swifts, was third in the standings with 522 goals.

Fowler was also heads and shoulders above the rest in net points, the definitive measurement of player performance.

Every time someone scores a goal, blocks a pass, gets a defensive rebound, they get points. The bigger the impact, the bigger the points. If players make mistakes or cause turnovers, they lose points. At the end of the game, each player receives an individual net points score, which represents their contribution to the match.

During the season, Fowler accumulated 1740 net points, more than 500 more than compatriot Shamera Sterling of the Adelaide Thunderbirds, who amassed 1174 net points. Kate Moloney of the finalists, Melbourne Vixens was 700 points back with 1040.

Sterling, who led defensive rebounds with 37 also had the third-best number of intercepts with 37, trailing Kate Pretorius of the Sun Coast Lightning, who had 43 and Courtney Bruce of the West Coast Fever with 42.

Sterling compatriot Jodi-Ann Ward was fifth with 29.

Sterling also had 104 deflections, second most in the league.

 

Jhaniele Fowler put on another shooting masterclass on Sunday as the West Coast Fever defeated the Sunshine Coast Lightning to book a spot in Sunday’s grand final.

President of the Trinidad and Tobago Netball Association Pat Butcher said the association is doing everything it can to get its two professional netballers home soon.

Daystar Swift and Khalifa McCollin have been stranded in Barbados for the past month after attempting to return home after their debut season in the Suncorp Super League in Australia.

They were awaiting their final travel documents from the TT Government to return home. Since the pandemic began, TT closed its borders to all commercial flights. Persons wishing to gain entry to the island first have to receive special exemption documentation that will allow them entry into the island.

Meantime, they have been staying with a fellow netballer in Barbados but they are reportedly running out of cash.

“It’s really tough because we have to purchase our own food, pay for transportation and funds are running low,” McCollin told Trinidadian newspaper Newsday.

Butcher told Sportsmax.TV that the association has reached out to government in the hope that the relevant authorities will expedite the documentation the players need to return home.

“TTNA has been working behind the scenes and has made representation to Government on their behalf. We are hoping and praying that they will be back on the next official flight from Barbados,” the president said.

The players have been frustrated as their attempts to get home have been met mainly with silence from the relevant authorities.

“We’re only getting automated responses saying our message was received. Nothing else after that, no updates, no acknowledgement of our letters, nothing,” they said.

Jhaniele Fowler was perfect from the field as the West Coast Fever rallied from nine points down to defeat the New South Wales Swifts Sunday to advance to the preliminary final of the Suncorp Super Netball League.

It was an epic clash at the USC Stadium between Caribbean shooters, Fowler, who scored 55 goals and Samantha Wallace, who sunk 34 from 35 attempts, as the Fever won 67-62 in what was described as one of the matches of the season.

NSW Swifts got off to a fast start winning the first quarter 17-15. They remained in in control of the match in the second quarter as super shots from Wallace and teammate Helen Housby (10 from 14) saw the Swifts outscore the Fever 19-14 to lead 36-29 at the interval.

The Fever made four changes at the half which seemed to spur the team to life. Through Fowler’s impeccable shooting they rallied to win the quarter 19-12 to tie the score at the end of the third.

Fowler continued her onslaught as the Fever snatched the lead and went on to win the intense counter by five.

Fever shot 94 per cent from the field in victory while the Swifts shooting fell to 88 per cent in the heartbreaking loss.

 

Samantha Wallace, Jhaniele Fowler and Romelda Aiken were all winners in Round 13 of the Suncorp Super Netball League on the weekend.

Shimona Nelson scored a team-high 40 goals on Wednesday but the Collingwood Magpies suffered its 12th loss of the Suncorp Super Netball season.

In the match played at the Townsville Entertainment and Convention Centre, Nelson scored her goals from just 44 attempts but the cellar-dwellers were never in a position to claim what would have been only their second win of the season, losing 63-53 to second-placed Sunshine Coast Lightning.

Led by Cara Koenen’s 41 goals from 45 attempts, the Lightning won each quarter 16-12, 19-15, 14-13, 14-13 for their ninth win of the season.

Nelson teammate Gabrielle Sinclair shot seven of nine in the losing effort.

A mixture of shock, sadness and disappointment greeted Mickey Haughton-James’ announcement last week that he would close the Spartan Health Club indefinitely at the end of September because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The gym opened in 1976 and has largely been associated with the beautiful women of the Miss Jamaica World franchise but Spartan has also been home to some of Jamaica’s greatest athletes, among them some of the very best in the world.

Reggae legend Bob Marley also broke sweat there.

Members of the West Indies cricket team, Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz, World and Olympic medallists and Jamaica’s world-class netballers have all, at one time or another used the facilities to hone their bodies in the pursuit of athletic excellence.

Leeroy Gray was a physical trainer at the gym for many years. Before he migrated, he worked with some of the very best including eight-time Olympic gold medallist and world record holder Usain Bolt; 2011 100m World Champion Yohan Blake as well as Olympic bronze medallist Warren Weir.

Gray also trained St Kitts’ Kim Collins, the 2003 100m World Champion; British 100m champion Dwayne Chambers, Olympian Aleen Bailey, World Championship bronze medallist Ristanana Tracey and Commonwealth 100m champion Kemar Bailey-Cole during his time at what he described as Jamaica’s No. 1 gym.

“To hear that the gym is closing for good, it is not good,” he told Sportsmax.TV, clearly at a loss for words.

He was not the only one taken by surprise.

“I don’t even know where to start,” said Blake, the second-fastest man of all time. “Usually, when I get up in the morning I scan through the news while preparing for training. It was a shock to find out that Spartan was closing for good.

“I remember clearly this amazing facility that helped not only me, but so many of our world-class athletes reach where they are today. It was a wonderful place to do your workout and have a talk with everyone. I have many good memories of Spartan. I still can't believe it. I understand this facility has been around from 1976. It represents the end of an era. I am truly sad that it has to close.”

Blake alluded to the fact that Spartan was more than just a gym. It was a place where like-minded athletes shared conversations and inspiration with the many patrons.

Weir, who along with Bolt and Blake, finished 1-2-3 in the 200m at the 2012 London Olympics also had fond memories of the days when he trained there.

“Spartan was that place where you went and just felt motivated to work because there was so much inspiration around you. People were always encouraging you to just be your best,” Weir recalled.

“I remember when I just started at Spartan, there were always people there telling you ‘you’re gonna be good, you’re gonna be great, just continue training’

“Then seeing other sports people and artistes there putting the work in, also motivates you and lets you see that you on the TV is work that is being done on the back end.”

Former West Indies opener Wavell Hinds spent a lot of time at Spartan after his Test career ended in 2005. The work he put in there helped him prolong his playing days and for that, he expressed his gratitude to Haughton-James.

“The generosity of Mr James and the Spartan Gym contributed immensely to my career between 2007 and 2011,” he said.

“In fact, the entire Jamaica Cricket team benefited from the use of Spartan gym during the said period.  I want publicly thank Mr James and Spartan for their contribution to the development of Jamaica's cricket.”

Former Netball Jamaica President Marva Bernard said read the news of the impending closure made her very sad.

“Many, many years ago we used to get support from Mickey to use the gym to train the Sunshine Girls and I vividly remember Connie Francis, in particular. I can still see her running on that treadmill as if her life depended on it, that is how hard she trained,” Bernard said.

“And so, I want to say to Mickey, thank you so much for the years of support that you have given, not only to Netball Jamaica but several of the elite athletes in all sporting disciplines.

“Your generosity knows no bounds and I hope that one day you will rebound because you’re a good man and your gym has made a difference in many people’s lives.”

Romelda Aiken scored 45 goals from 51 attempts on Sunday but the Queensland Firebirds went down 75-67 to the Sunshine Coast Lightning on Sunday in the Suncorp Super Netball League.

Anger is mounting over the indiscipline of many local and returning Jamaicans who are not following COVID-19 protocols.

Though pollster Don Anderson found that 53% of Jamaicans disagreed with the government's decision to restart the tourism sector in mid-June because of its likeliness to contribute to a spike in cases, many argue that the indiscipline of local and returning Jamaicans and their ignorance of proper COVID-19 protocols are equally a threat.

Kadie-Ann Dehaney, goalkeeper for the Melbourne Vixens, says she stayed in Melbourne, Australia for a couple of reasons “it didn’t make sense to leave Australia because our competitions could continue and the Jamaican borders were closed at the time.” Consequently, Dehaney knows what a lockdown 2.0 looks and feels like.

 

This Q&A explores Dehaney’s netball journey away from home before and during a second lockdown due to a COVID-19 spike in Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city.

 

Melissa Talbert (MT): What is your living arrangement like?

 

Kadie-Ann Dehaney (KD): Before the pandemic, I lived with my Jamaican teammate who plays for the other Melbourne team (Collingwood magpies) based in Melbourne. Together we rented a flat located 10 minutes from our training venue.

However, from mid-March to late-May, four Jamaicans (including me) stayed in Perth, a city in Australia. At the time we were miles away from home (Jamaica) and only had each other.

Because our competition started on August 1st, both Melbourne teams (Melbourne Vixens and Collingwood magpies) had to relocate to Queensland. The virus was spreading widely in Melbourne— leading to lockdown 2.0. One that’s happening as we speak! The outbreak in Melbourne is bad; before entering Queensland we had to quarantine for two weeks.

 

MT: Why Perth?

 

KD: We were there because Jhaniele Fowler-Reid lives in Perth and she has bigger accommodation to hold all of us. We went to Perth to be together to get through the pandemic rather than staying by ourselves without family.

 

MT: Your unstable living situation because of COVID-19 could have in some way affected your mood. How does attitude/mood influence a game?

 

KD: Generally, attitude is very important for performance for anything; not just a game or a sport. For me, it’s a process. Eating healthy, sufficient sleep and staying hydrated are things that influence a game greatly. To be honest, though I’m a night owl, I have to go to bed early to perform at my best. Don’t eat right? That’s a poor game in the making right there. And if we’re being all the way honest, I’m not a big fan of drinking water, but I have to stay hydrated to do well.

 

MT: Since a lot of time is being spent inside nowadays, how do housemates make sure the other is comfortable?

 

KD: Living with someone I know beyond the court helps a lot. We played netball for the Sunshine Girls together; we just understand each other, so living together is rather easy. Though I must add, one is untidy and the other is very neat but we somehow manage to make it work by not invading each other's space— space is very important. Equally important is sharing tasks. For us, one cooks and the other cleans ... it’s things like that.

However, on days off, we do stuff together like sightseeing or head to the beach. We try to make Australia as homie (Jamaican) as possible. We also visit historical sites— we’ve seen some in Victoria and Brisbane.

 

MT: The New York Times described Melbourne’s lockdown restrictions as “some of the toughest restrictions in the world.” Based on your observations, what is the response to Covid-19 in Melbourne like?

 

KD: Melbourne, at the moment, is not responding well to COVID-19. Every state except Melbourne is back to normality. Melbourne has gone into a second lockdown—no one is allowed in or out of the state for any reason, it is mandatory to wear a mask and no one is allowed to be out beyond 800pm.

 

MT: Do you miss Jamaica? Why?

 

KD: I get so homesick! I get homesick because this country is very different from Jamaica. Not to be judgemental, but they party differently here. Going to a party means sitting down and drinking until you pass out. The food? Their food can’t compare to that of Jamaica’s.

What always gets me though is not seeing family and friends for a year. It’s very hard being away for so long.

I’m in competition at the moment (just started actually) and at the moment, the season is going well. My team is at the top after three rounds.

But not having family watch you perform is hard! Especially when the family of your teammates gets to come to games.

It feels quite lonely at times— now I’m in my fourth year and being away from family is just as tough as it was in my first year.

 

MT: Who in Jamaica do you miss the most?

 

KD: My grandma, as always.

 

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